Taking the risk out of accessing sexual health information online  

A woman walks past a mural in the Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya, May 16, 2017. picture taken May 16, 2017.REUTERS/Baz Ratner - RC1EC4B2ADD0

There are multiple online platforms when it comes to Sexual Reproductive Health-SRH information.

Sexual Reproductive Health campaigner Christine Sayo addressing the conference in Entebbe,Uganda./CGTN Digital

Sexual reproductive health advocates say, the amount of misinformation on sexual health online makes an internet search for credible data about things like contraceptives almost as risky as a one-night stand.

And this being the obtaining scenario, SRH campaigners, Lilian Muchoki and Christine Sayo, have added themselves and their new online platform to the growing list of options people can tap in order to gain credible information on the use of contraceptives.

“About 200 million women across the world are unable to access modern contraceptives and one of the biggest causes for this, is that they lack information.So you can imagine that they are relying on second hand information and myths.Some of these are not positive information, so when it comes to accessing information, you will find them going online to ask their friends.some imagine that there is one fit all contraceptive,” Lilian Muchoki submits.

“If we can direct women to the right sources of information, then we can help millions of them,” she adds.

Muchoki and Sayo have a platform, Women First Digital, it offers both men and women the opportunity to search for information on the use of contraceptives.

They emphasized that, theirs is an initiative geared towards guiding those who want factual information.

Women First Digital has three platforms: Safe2choose, Pink Shoes and Find my Method. Each has employed counsellors who are always on standby. They speak various languages including English, Hebrew, Arabic, French, Spanish and Swahili.

These professionals are tasked with the responsibility of aiding those seeking information on the usage of contraceptives.

“Luckily for young people, we are growing up in an environment where there are digital platforms,” Sayo says. “The beauty with these platforms is, they came with secrecy and they are devoid of stigma.”

She adds that with the emergence of technologies, then it is time for them to leverage on it to help the masses make great choices when it comes to contraceptives uptake.

However there still exist stereotypes with a majority of people thinking that contraceptives are a woman’s affair.

Sayo quickly dispels this notion saying, according to the number of messages they receive on their platforms on a daily basis, men too are seeking information to help their spouses and themselves.

“Just to note that our website and our inbox are not filled with messages from just women alone, it is also young men reaching out and saying my girlfriend and I are considering these contraceptives, can you guide us through it?” She says.

Presently people have access to digital platforms more so via mobile phones. However, according to Muchoki given that they don’t keep these contraceptives, theirs is to direct consumers to the providers who give further information.

“You have read about the different contraceptives, we do not supply, so we ask them to visit providers who can now advise them depending on different factors that they may want to consider before using contraceptives.”

Buhlebenkosi Lerato Mlupi a youth researcher from Biomedical Research and Training Institute in Zimbabwe./CGTN Digital

Buhlebenkosi Lerato Mlupi a youth researcher from Biomedical Research and Training Institute in Zimbabwe was involved in a study where young people were interviewed on their accessibility to sexual reproductive health services using technology.

She says, during their research, they established that young people are seeking sexual reproductive health information, counseling services, and contraceptives in their private space.

“So, we discovered that young people want to access health services like counseling through their mobile phones, because they say, they feel much comfortable to speak about the things they go through in confidence.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Sayo who submitted that “People are having sex but then we don’t talk about it with our peers. Our parents assume we got this information from school, the school assumes our parents will talk about it. So, there is that confusion and lack of information that is happening especially with young people.”

They believe that in this digital age, many will be reached with credible information on Sexual Reproductive Health.

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